Basic Strategy – Betting

Now that you have got a good idea of how a typical Texas Hold ’em game unfolds, let’s take a closer look at how betting works and some of the options available to you during a game.

We will also cover some basic betting strategy that may benefit you in your game. At times you will be low on chips and a good betting strategy will have you replenishing your chip stack, at your opponents cost, in no time.

BETTING POINTS OF INTEREST

As we have seen, there are four betting rounds, or intervals that are available to us during each hand of Hold ’em. It is likely that we will not always see all of the betting rounds, due to the fact that the pot may already be won long before the showdown.

Let’s now look a little closer at some of the things that you will need to be aware of in the betting rounds.

MAXIMUM NUMBER OF RAISES

So that things do not get out of control and players with large stacks of chips do not bully players with fewer chips, there is a maximum limit of raises per betting round. This is usually set to three and once this limit has been reached the only options left to the players is to call or to fold.

Once the bets have been equalised, the next community card(s) can be dealt or the showdown can commence.

SIDE POTS

If a player does not have enough chips to call, it would not be fair to allow that player to play that hand and win the contents of the pot, as he would not have put as much in as the other players.

In this instance a separate pot is created that will hold the difference. This is called a side pot.

For example: Player A bets $100, Player B calls with $100, Player C only has $50 and calls. In this instance Player C’s $50 bet is placed in the pot. Another side pot is then created and the difference between Player C’s bet and the other two players bets, are removed from the main pot and placed in the side pot. The main pot now contains $150 ($50 for each player) and the side pot contains $100 ($50 belonging to Player A and $50 belonging to Player B).

All players can win the main pot, but only Player A and Player B can win the side-pot. Therefore if Player C wins the pot, he will receive the contents of the pot and the side pot will be given back to Player A and Player B. If however, Player B wins the pot, then he will receive the contents of the main pot, plus the contents of the side-pot as he has an interest in both pots.

It may be necessary to create multiple side-pots in a game, but only players who have put the correct amount of money in each pot, will be able to claim them. If a player has not got any of his money in a pot, then he will not have claim on that pot.

BLIND INCREASES

During the course of a game, you may find that the blinds are increased every so often. This is meant to speed up the game. Not all Hold ’em poker games are subject to blind increases.

In tournaments, the increase in blind payments may change each hour, online every 15 minutes or so.

Ensure that you check which type of game you are thinking about playing and when, if any, blind increases are made, before you join the game.

STRATEGIC BETTING

If everybody was honest and only placed bets according to their hand, then players would fold when they had a bad hand, bet when they had a moderate hand and raise when they had a good hand.

When learning to play Texas Hold ’em this is what you should do while you are building your experience in the game.

However, from time to time there may be a need to look a little closer at betting more strategically, either to replenish your chips, to improve your chip-stack in order to play an opponent with a big stack or maybe just to win.

Whatever your reason, there are a few tactics that can be used to make your game play a bit more flexible and to give you the advantage that you otherwise may not have had.

GENERAL BETTING STRATEGY

Before we get on to the more deceitful betting options, let’s discuss good general betting strategy. These basic considerations are extremely beneficial and can put you in a good position for the game.

STRONG HAND

If you hold an excellent hand in early position, such as A-A, K-K or A-K suited, then you should consider raising and even re-raising, before the flop.

This will drive out players that hold draw hands and generally cause them to fold.

MIDDLE & LATE POSITIONS

If you hold a strong hand and are in the middle or late positions, then you may look to raise if none of the players before you have raised..

However, if you are in middle position and somebody after you raises, then unless they are bluffing it is likely that their hand beats you and you need to be on your guard.

BLIND-STEALING

Blind-Stealing can be used to increase the number of chips that you hold. It will almost never make you rich, but may give you a slight advantage against a player with a larger stack. This tactic can also be used as a way to end the hand quickly.

When you are playing on the button and only you and the players who have paid the small and big blinds remain in the game, if you were to raise you would be seen to be attempting to steal the blinds. You are basically trying to get both of the blinds to fold.

If you were to call rather than raise, it is possible that the blinds would also just call, in order to attempt to see the flop as cheaply as possible.

When you raise, you are basically stating that you have a strong hand (even if you have a poor hand) and that if the blinds do not, then they should consider folding. This would mean that you would claim the pot.

STEAL-RAISE

If in a hand, you are the last player to act and all players before you have checked, if you were to bet then it would be known as a Steal-Raise. If your intention is to bet in order to take the pot.

By betting it is possible that the players who checked to you held a lesser hand and were trying to see the flop for free. By placing a bet, they now have to match that bet by calling, raising or folding. Some players may fold, decreasing the competition and some players may call increasing the size of the pot.

Be careful when using this tactic. It is possible that one of the other players that previously checked actually holds a good quality hand. Therefore, use this tactic when you have a good drawing hand (such a nut flush draw).

CHECK-RAISE

The Check-Raise tactic is used to increase the size of the pot and to deceive your opponent into thinking that you do not hold a strong hand, by checking, therefore forcing him to bet. You then raise his bet. Seeing as he has already committed one bet to his hand, it is likely that he will match the raise by calling.

THE OPENER

This tactic is used by players that tend to bluff frequently. When playing in early position and the first player to act, the player immediately raises. This forces each player to pay a double bet (bet amount plus the raise amount) in order to stay in the hand.

Unless a player holds a strong hand or is also an aggressive player, the Opener will see players folding more often than not.

This tactic is best used with fewer players in the hand.

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